FWC proposes protection for hammerheads, tiger sharks
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Media contact: Aaron Podey, 850-487-0554
(Back to Commission meeting news)
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on
Thursday advanced its long-standing policy to protect stressed
shark populations in Florida waters. The action came during the
second day of its three-day meeting in Naples.
Sharks have been strictly regulated in Florida since 1992, with
a one-shark-per-person, two-sharks-per-vessel daily bag limit for
all recreational and commercial harvesters; a ban on shark finning;
and a prohibition on roughly two dozen overfished, vulnerable or
rare shark species.
"Florida has been recognized as a pioneer and a leader in shark
management efforts for nearly 20 years," said FWC Chairman Kathy
Barco. "We recognize that maintaining healthy shark populations is
critical to the sustainability of our marine ecosystem. The
additional protections we are proposing would help preserve
Florida's valuable marine resources."
The Commission proposes protecting four additional shark species
that rely on Florida's productive coastal waters for their
survival. The FWC's proposed rules would prohibit harvest of
scalloped hammerheads, great hammerheads, smooth hammerheads and
tiger sharks from state waters. Scalloped hammerheads are
considered overfished and are experiencing overfishing, which means
that fishing pressure is too high to be sustainable. Research
indicates the other three species have also suffered severe
population declines in recent decades.
In addition to the proposed rules, the Commission directed staff
to work with stakeholders and anglers to develop an educational
campaign highlighting proper fishing and handling techniques when
catching and releasing sharks. Commissioners also asked staff to
explore a trophy tag program for these important sharks. The tag,
similar to the one used for tarpon, would allow anglers to harvest
a shark for record purposes.
A final public hearing on the proposed shark rules will be
during the November FWC meeting in Key Largo.